Cali lost her head over Thanksgiving. We spent the week at her Favorite Place in the World, also known as Deni’s Lolo, Mont., house. We were sharing the holiday with Alberta and Mack, two lovely dogs who live there.

Well, the most important thing to know about Deni’s Lolo house is that it has a lot of land and is surrounded by even more open, unfenced land and national forest.

The first day, we set out for a walk around the property and, well, Cali lost her head. She took off running and she ran and ran in giant loops around the meadow, up and down hills, in and out between trees, around and around and around, for several minutes.

Cali, wearing a cowboy hat, smiles broadlyThe first time Cali spent a summer in Montana, I decided that “Don’t Fence Me In” should be her theme song. When we returned last summer, we stopped at Packer Meadow, which is at Lolo Pass, right on the Idaho — Montana border, about a 30-minute drive from Lolo. Koala was with us, and the two dogs did the same sort of “lost-our-heads, can’t-stop-running” exuberant celebration (see the video for a tiny sliver of their romp).

There is nothing more joyful than watching a dog run free. And dogs seem to know when they are truly free, versus in a large, open, off-leash, but fenced area.

Cali has a good life. Every day, wherever we’ve lived, I’ve taken her someplace that she can play ball and run around off leash. But it’s nearly always a yard or park that is a contained, fenced play area. She loves it, but she knows the difference.